Answering an ad in NME changed Elton John’s life and 9 more things we learned at his New York press conference

The music icon held a Q&A after announcing his final tour

In the stunning surroundings of New York’s Gotham Hall, a room of journalists remove VR headsets on which they’ve just journeyed through Elton John‘s career, and a black curved wall with a giant E on it rotates to reveal the icon himself sat at a piano. As his jacket and shades sparkle under the lights, he plays ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘I’m Still Standing’, before joining Anderson Cooper to announce his final ever tour and take part in a Q&A. In it, he’s full of wit and happiness, talking lovingly of his children, husband David Furnish, and his life so far. Here’s what we learned from the event.

He’ll still be making albums

Just because he’s not planning on touring after this casual 300-date farewell run, doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of Elton. “It doesn’t mean to say I’m not going to be creative, I’m just not going to travel,” he explains. “When I say I’m stopping touring, I’m not stopping music. Creatively I’ll be writing a lot and who knows what’s going to happen. I will be creative, hopefully, up until the day I die. I definitely want to make a couple more albums.”

He’s never downloaded anything in his life

Despite being pretty on the pulse of new music, a keen advocate for streaming, and hosting a radio show for Beats 1, Elton’s not as technology savvy as you might think. “I’m a luddite,” he says of himself, adding that he’s “never downloaded anything in my life – not even porn.” Host Anderson Cooper chimes in, “Did you have someone else to do that for you?” to which the icon sharply responds: “You were good at that for a while.”

Post-touring Elton will be spending his time at football academies

If you spot an Elton lookalike near a football pitch once he’s done on the road, it might be the real deal. Asked what his days will look like when the tour is over, he said he didn’t know, but he was “most looking forward to taking my kids to soccer academy.” “My sons are quite serious about soccer so I want to take them to places where they can learn to play well,” he explained. “At the moment they want to be a footballer and an astronaut.”

Grammys and other awards are “superfluous trinkets”

“I’m not a person who cherishes Grammys and things like that,” says Elton, a man set to be honoured at this weekend’s ceremony. Don’t take that as being ungrateful or unappreciative, though – he just prefers symbols of recognition that come from different areas. “I’m a person who cherishes gold records and things like that because it means people have paid their hard-earned money to buy something that you’ve made,” he explains. “The other things are superfluous little trinkets.”

Answering an ad in NME changed his life

Many a band and musician got their start through the old classified ads in the back of the mag, and Elton is no different. “So many things in my life have been fate,” he says wistfully, before sharing his story with the audience. “I was a musician in a band and I hated it. I was playing to people who were eating fish and chips – it was a cabaret thing. And I thought, ‘What can I do? I can write songs.'”

So off he went and answered an ad, went to a record company’s office and was handed an envelope of lyrics from a pile, which turned out to be written by his longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin. “He could have given me any one,” Elton said. “I opened it on the tube train home and it was Bernie’s lyrics. I’ve been so lucky.”

He’s against a hologram of him being made

Musicians of a certain age and deceased artists’ estates might be exploring hologram technology to keep live revenue coming in, but don’t expect to see a hologram version of the Rocket Man on a stage at anytime in the future. “I said to Zachary, my eldest, ‘When Daddy dies, promise me there won’t be a hologram going around the world doing concerts,” he laughs. “It’s like doing a duet album with someone who’s dead – it’s so spooky. Who knows – they may go broke and then put me back on the fucking stage, but I think that’s a bit freaky.”

If he ever does a live show again, it won’t be a tour

Elton’s promised this is really it in terms of his live show, but should he change his mind, he won’t be venturing far to perform. “If I do a live show again, it’ll be something like a residency,” he says, “like Kate Bush did at Hammersmith Apollo. I won’t travel. I won’t be going to Europe again, I won’t be going back to Australia, Asia, South America, and probably America.” You have been warned.

He only remembers he wrote the songs for The Lion King when he sees an advert

You’d think if you did something as notable as writing the soundtrack for a massive film and then won an Oscar for your work, you might remember it. Not in Elton’s case. “I went to see The Lion King with my sons the other day,” he recalls. “We took them to the theatre in London and I’m going, ‘Oh yeah, I wrote this!’ I only remember about The Lion King when I see it on the taxi cabs.”

His favourite gig he’s ever played was with John Lennon

Over the course of his career, the star has played countless gigs all around the world, so it must be hard to choose just one as his ultimate favourite. He does a pretty good job of answer that question and pleasing the New York audience, though, when he selects a Madison Square Garden show in 1974, where he was joined onstage by the late Beatle. “[It’s] my favourite place to play in the whole world,” Elton explains. “It’s just magic, that place. You can’t build an arena with atmosphere – it just has it.”

He gets sick of playing ‘Crocodile Rock’

With the amount of songs Elton has written and recorded in his career, it’s not completely surprising that there’s some he can’t stand anymore. Asked what his favourite songs to play are, he replies with the opposite. “There’s certain songs where you think, ‘Oh I’ve got to fucking sing that one again.'” Pressed for specifics, he says: “Probably ‘Crocodile Rock’, but the audience love it. It’s a guilty pleasure, as they say.”